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Meeting Planners Book Business in Fort Worth

The 2022 Small Market Meetings Summit drew more than 60 buyers and sellers to Fort Worth, Texas, May 2–3, for a full day of sales appointments, a stellar evening event at the Marriott Champion’s Circle’s Paddock venue and motivational wizardry from mentalist Daniel Jaspersen. The summit is a brief, pod-based sales conference that allows participants to arrive one day and leave the next with qualified sales leads.

“Visit Fort Worth understands the meetings business,” said summit partner Charlie Presley of the Group Travel Family. “Meetings are about hospitality, service and great venues, and Fort Worth has all those bases covered. They made our delegates happy during the summit.”

The entire meeting took place at the Marriott, which also features an 18-hole golf course and an adjacent Big Shot driving range venue. 

Two dozen planners from across the country attended, and their clients ranged from national education associations to health care companies and technology corporations.

“We speak with every planner personally before they are allowed to come,” Presley said. “Our first questions are, ‘Do you want to come see Fort Worth and do you have delegations that would come to Fort Worth?’ We only have 25 meeting planner slots, and each one is important to a host city.”

Primary sponsors at the event in addition to Visit Fort Worth, Marriott Champion’s Circle, and the Paddock at Champion’s Circle included Experience Minnesota’s Rochester; the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration; Visit Cheyenne; Visit Henderson, Nevada; and Visit Panama City Beach.

The evening event at The Paddock was a western affair highlighted by the venue’s rustic indoor/outdoor ambience, live music, and authentic food and beverage selections. Two local cocktails, the Texas Twister and the Jameson Orange Mule, were offered. Visit Fort Worth CEO Bob Jameson attended to personally welcome the summit delegates to his destination.

Here’s what delegates had to say:

“We’ll have 500–600 attendees on our peak night in June at the Diplomat Hotel in Hollywood, Florida. A highlight of this group is that our attendees bring high-school-aged guests and mentor them.”

— Kevin Patterson, 100 Black Men of America, Charlotte, North Carolina

“Some of my largest clients are in the biotech industry. I plan meetings for their advisory boards, which are 25–30 attendees, their clinical meetings that have 150–175 attendees, their two- or three-day training programs for maybe 250 and their national meeting for up to 800. I use second- and third-tier cities quite often.”

— Rosa McArthur, Meeting Planners Plus, Costa Mesa, California

“I plan for the National Alternative Education Association. Our annual conference moves around the country. We also have nine regions that have their own meetings, and I plan workshops, summits and other events for them.”

— Jacquelyn Whitt, Inteletravel, Smyrna, Georgia

“Panama City Beach might work for us. Our events are held over weekends and draw 16–20 teams that each bring 60 or so people including players’ families. One event can bring in 1,000 people for the weekend.”

— Luis Figueroa, International Slow Pitch Association, Miami

“We hosted the Small Market Meetings Conference last September, and I wanted to be here to follow up. We are what everyone expects when they want an Old West experience, and I want these planners to come to Cheyenne.”

— Jim Walter, Visit Cheyenne

“We’re a great alternative to staying in Las Vegas for meetings. We’re half an hour or so away. We have resorts for every budget, and we have 350,000 feet of meeting space. We’re perfect for a lot of these planners.”

— Ed Kirby, Visit Henderson, Nevada

“We were the site for last year’s first Small Market Meetings Summit, and I recognize some faces here. That meeting was held at the Sheraton Panama City Beach Golf and Spa Resort, and we also have great facilities at the Edgewater Resort and our new Springhill Suites on the beach.”

— Ashley Bradshaw, Visit Panama City Beach